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With my Pentecostal friends I often hear comments like these:

  1. There is God's presence in the church worship today.
  2. The Holy Spirit has moved from church A to church B since church B is growing rapidly while church A is stagnating.
  3. You can feel the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon pastor X; no one in the congregation is sleeping during sermon!

Growing up in a reformed church, I rarely heard those kinds of statements. Instead,

  • I would normally hear the Holy Spirit mentioned only in reference to leading a person to repentance or to a conversion. Even so, this activity was usually attributed to Jesus, not Holy Spirit.
  • Worship was never described as "powerful" or as "full of Holy Spirit's presence", but more as offering something beautiful and biblical that an individual takes in naturally through music and congregational singing. If the individual is paying attention, the positive effect includes peace, joy, gratitude, repentance, etc.
  • Talk about growing a church is characterized more as exhorting people to bring unchurched friends / family members rather than praying for the Holy Spirit to bring a revival, etc.
  • I would hear how God (not the Holy Spirit) gives a pastor the "gift of preaching", but I never heard the verb "filling" / "anointing" used.

The overall impression I got was that the Holy Spirit's theater of operation is the individual heart, not the institution like a church. And the Holy Spirit's mode of operation is through the person's reason / emotion, not through infusion of something alien like a liquid being poured into the soul.

Is it possible that my childhood pastor neglected to preach properly on the Holy Spirit, or to assign the wrong Person of the Trinity in God's activity with us? Also, my childhood pastor never seem to talk of Holy Spirit's activity at an institutional level, which in Pentecostal lingo it is as though there is a "holy ghost" hovering around being "present" or "anointing" / "filling" individual as in Pentecost. Did he neglect this part as well?

My question in 3 related sub questions is:

  1. What is the Reformed perspective on how the Holy Spirit is present or is growing a church at the institutional level?
  2. What are all Holy Spirit's operations at the institutional level?
  3. How does Reformed theology translate the Pentecostal lingo in the 3 statements above?
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  • Not an answer, but the closest to a biblical basis for this Pentecostal terminology IMO would be Hebrews 1: 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” and Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness Aug 10 at 21:57
  • Acts 4:31 would be an example of a "corporate filling" of the Holy Spirit leading to an extraordinary increase in boldness to preach the gospel. Aug 10 at 21:59

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